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Syria's Electronic Armies

DATE 2017


ROLE Design Consultant


Journalist and filmmaker Juliana Ruhfus approached me to provide game design consultancy work on an interactive version of her film Syria’s Electronic Armies, for Al Jazeera.

The project, #HACKED: Syria’s Electronic Armies, was a game that tasked the player to collect as much information as possible on the Syrian cyber war by contacting activists, hackers and experts who were interviewed for the original film. As they do so, they face decisions around journalistic ethics as well as the threat of being hacked, such as clicking infected links and attempted blackmail.  Every simulated hack that takes place in the game is based on real events.

The core design features of the game were already set by the time I joined the project, but I was able to assist in tightening aspects of the experience like feedback and task communication.  Additionally, it was fascinating to be able to work closely with Juliana on the task of clearly defining and conveying which parts of the experience which were journalism, and which were narrative embellishments to create a smooth experience. Developing rules to differentiate between the two is especially important in factual interactive pieces, and is relatively unprecedented even now, let alone in 2016. 

#HACKED was shown at the Alternate Realities Exhibition at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, and nominated for an Alternate Realities Award, as well as a Webby Award (Integrated Mobile Experience) in 2017.

A version of is available online, and can be played here.

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